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Title: Critical Research for Cost-Effective Photoelectrochemical Production of Hydrogen

The objective of this project is to develop critical technologies required for cost-effective production of hydrogen from sunlight and water using a-Si triple junction solar cell based photo-electrodes. In this project, Midwest Optoelectronics, LLC (MWOE) and its collaborating organizations utilize triple junction a-Si thin film solar cells as the core element to fabricate photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells. Triple junction a-Si/a-SiGe/a-SiGe solar cell is an ideal material for making cost-effective PEC system which uses sun light to split water and generate hydrogen. It has the following key features: 1) It has an open circuit voltage (Voc ) of ~ 2.3V and has an operating voltage around 1.6V. This is ideal for water splitting. There is no need to add a bias voltage or to inter-connect more than one solar cell. 2) It is made by depositing a-Si/a-SiGe/aSi-Ge thin films on a conducting stainless steel substrate which can serve as an electrode. When we immerse the triple junction solar cells in an electrolyte and illuminate it under sunlight, the voltage is large enough to split the water, generating oxygen at the Si solar cell side (for SS/n-i-p/sunlight structure) and hydrogen at the back, which is stainless steel side. There is no need tomore » use a counter electrode or to make any wire connection. 3) It is being produced in large rolls of 3ft wide and up to 5000 ft long stainless steel web in a 25MW roll-to-roll production machine. Therefore it can be produced at a very low cost. After several years of research with many different kinds of material, we have developed promising transparent, conducting and corrosion resistant (TCCR) coating material; we carried out extensive research on oxygen and hydrogen generation catalysts, developed methods to make PEC electrode from production-grade a-Si solar cells; we have designed and tested various PEC module cases and carried out extensive outdoor testing; we were able to obtain a solar to hydrogen conversion efficiency (STH) about 5.7% and a running time about 480 hrs, which are very promising results; we have also completed a techno-economic analysis of our PEC system, which indicates that a projected hydrogen generation cost of $2/gge is achievable with a 50 Ton-per-day (TPD) scale under certain conditions.« less
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  1. Midwest Optoelectronics, LLC, Toledo, OH (United States)
  2. Univ. of Toledo, OH (United States)
  3. Xunlight Corporation, Toledo, OH (United States)
  4. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Midwest Optoelectronics, LLC, Toledo, OH (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Solar Thermal, Biomass Power, and Hydrogen Technologies (EE-13)
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN Photoelectrochemical; Hydrogen; Production; Thin Film